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The best music venues in London: Royal Albert Hall

The city's 20 best places to see live music, as voted by you – get the latest gig listings and buy tickets

Royal Albert Hall

To the most fairweather of British music fans, the RAH is, and always will be, synonymous with the last night of the Proms, and all that goes with it. But besides its astonishing acoustics and an aesthetic and atmosphere which rivals the Vatican, it has an effortless elegance which makes the venue itself feel like part of the performance.

The Beatles saw headlining the Hall as a mark of pop’s domination of mainstream culture. Sinatra saw it as the classy-most rinky-dink venue he could ever brag about playing.

 It’s also where one of the greatest live albums of all time was recorded, when Spirtualized performed a senses-shattering run-through of their ambitious ‘Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ album, finished with a laser-assisted reading of ‘Oh Happy Day’ given mesmeric potency by the London Community Gospel Choir.

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Next venue: Koko


The Man on the Street
The Man on the Street Tastemaker

This is a jewel in London's crown. The most stunning place to see a gig if you have a decent seat, or if you are standing for The Proms. I have spent some memorable nights here. The best ever was Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli and Sammy Davies Junior. If I had a time machine I would return every night. I also have memories of Les Miserables 10th Anniversary and wild nights in the company of Eric Clapton. Come to think of it there have been too many to list including the most bonkers Blues Set from Robert Plant and his World Orchestra. Sublime - nearly as good as The Last Night of the Proms which is the calendar highlight here.

But .... and it's a big but.

Beware of the balcony seats, rear choir and balcony standing.

Unless you are desperate to be there or really tight , don't bother.

Also, don't bother writing to the management if the sound is bad.

I had one of the worst nights ever here when I saw Paul Weller "Waking up the Nation". The sound was appalling. I wrote to the The Albert Hall and the letter I got back was between arrogant and insulting - hoping I would have a better night next time (or words to that effect)

Well fortunately I have had better nights and encourage all of my friends to go to at least one gig at The RAH. Get a good seat , soak up the views and hopefully the sort of crisp sound they hoped for when the mushrooms were hung from the ceiling.